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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 October 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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The French line container ship CMA CGM IGUACU (27,059-gt, built 2006) arriving in Cape Town harbour this past week. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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There was drama in Hout Bay on Saturday afternoon when the charter boat Miroshga with a reported 39 passengers on board capsized after being swamped by a wave. Two people, John Roberts, 37, and Peter Phillip Hyatt, 64, were later confirmed to have died from drowning.

The boat was certified to carry 42 passengers and three crew. When rescued passengers were wearing life jackets.

The accident occurred near Duiker Island as the boat was returning from a whale watching cruise, with a mixture of South African and foreign passengers on board. Three women passengers survived under the capsized boat by finding air pockets, where they remained until police divers reached them between two and three hours later.

According to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), which was called out to the scene, a number of different organisations were placed on alert and responded with a Joint Operations Command being set up on scene which included commanders from all services involved including senior police officers from the Police Provincial Commissioner’s office.

The SA Navy and the SA Air Force were also placed on alert.

By the time the NSRI arrived on scene several passengers had been rescued by other boats in the area. Other survivors were found clinging to the hull of the upturned boat in the icy water and were picked up by NSRI rescue boats and taken ashore where they were treated by paramedics before some were taken to various Cape Town hospitals.

Ashore, the Atlantic Boat Club and Ikhaya Coffee Bar in Hout Bay harbour provided extensive hot drinks to survivors (to assist in their re- warming) and to rescuers alike.

SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) will conduct an investigation into the cause of the incident and the salvage tug Smit Amandla went on-scene to conduct a forensic salvage operation on behalf of SAMSA.

NSRI advises that the SA Police have opened an inquest docket.


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Greek bulker and crew released by Somali pirates

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The pirated bulker Free Goddess, which is now on her way to Salalah after being released by the pirates. Picture by Geir Vinnes/shipspotting.com

The Greek bulker FREE GODDESS (22,051-dwt, built 1995) and her crew of 21 Filipinos has been released by Somali pirates, the ship’s owner Free Bulkers has announced without confirming whether a ransom was paid.

It was reported by Reuters however, quoting a pirate in Garaad called Mohamed, that US5.7 million was paid to free the ship which had been held in Garaad.

The bulker was in pirate hands after being captured in February this year while sailing north of the island of Socotra with a cargo of steel cables.

The ship is now on her way to Salalah to take on fresh water and supplies as well as undergo a crew exchange.

Maersk cuts back 19 ships from Asia-Europe service

Danish container giant Maersk Line has cut back on its Asia-Europe services by removing 19 ships. Eight of these vessels were deployed on the AE5 service which has been scrapped, while another 11 were on the AE9 service, which has been temporarily stopped until early December 2012.

The AE5 service used mainly 6,500-TEU vessels and the AE9 8,000-TEU ships.

This brings Maersk Line’s total capacity reduction on this route to 21% so far this year.


South African cadets on board Argentine ship detained in Ghana

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ARA Libertad

An unknown number of South African cadets are reported to be on board the Argentine Navy sailing ship ARA LIBERTAD which is under arrest in Tema harbour, Ghana.

Ghanaian lawyers brought a court action against the ship on behalf of US and European creditors, who sought the detention order against the Argentine Navy tall ship on account of Argentina’s 2002 debt default.

Ten years ago Argentine declared a world-record sovereign default as the South American country suffered a financial melt-down. Resulting from this Argentine faces numerous lawsuits in the US courts from bondholders seeking to recover the full value of the defaulted bonds by freezing Argentine state assets.

On Thursday last week a Tema court dismissed an urgent application for the detention order to be set aside, with the court ruling that the ARA Libertad must remain in harbour until the hearing of the writ. The Judge said he had given Argentina the option to provide security to the court pending the determination of the case and Argentina had failed to do so.

Lawyers for the Argentine ship had argued that the vessel is a navy ship visiting Ghana at the request of the West African country. It carries a complement of over 200 men with nationals from South Africa, Namibia and Morocco in addition to those from the Argentine. In terms of the laws of Ghana naval ships enjoy immunity and are not subject to seizure, its lawyers argued.

The judge was unsympathetic and made his ruling which means the ship will remain under detention until the formal court case is heard.


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An interesting and possibly highly significant meeting took place in Maputo, Mozambique at the weekend when Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) met with its counterparts in the Port of Maputo, for what is possibly the first time that such a meeting has taken place since during the days of the Union of South Africa.

Even before Union the need for labour to work on the South African mines led to recruiting arrangements with the Portuguese authorities, and as a quid pro quo, a considerable portion of transit cargo for the Johannesburg area was handled by the Port of Lourenço Marques and its connecting railways, and this saw Lourenço Marques closely rivaling Durban for many years. Those arrangements collapsed with the Portuguese withdrawal from Mozambique in the 1970s.

It is doubtful that the meeting that took place at the weekend would have such far-reaching ramifications, although the joint statement issued by the two port authorities called it ‘a ground breaking meeting that will pave the way for regional integration and cooperation between South Africa and Mozambique.’

The distinction today is that while TNPA is a government owned body, the Port of Maputo is not in the same category, being a marriage between two main private operators, Grindrod and DP World, and the Mozambique state-owned railway and port company CFM. Nevertheless the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) representing these organisations holds the powers of a port authority, being responsible for maritime operations, pilotage, towing (tugboats) stevedoring, terminal and warehouse operations, as well as port’s planning and development.

According to TNPA the purpose of the meeting was to foster mutual collaborative interests and to explore opportunities for cooperation for the benefit of both organisations and countries. Areas of collaboration cover the segregation of MPDC into Port Authority and Port Operations, transition from road to rail, nautical matters, training of operational and engineering staff to name a few.

“This marks a key milestone for the two countries. The bilateral talks have been on the table for some time. Now that we have identified and agreed on areas of collaboration we are in a position to concretise the plans. Regional integration is in line with Transnet SOC Ltd’s Market Demand Strategy- reviewing Transnet’s role in the development of the North-South corridor, signing of MOU’s between African countries including training and skills development,” said Tau Morwe, TNPA’s chief executive.

Chief executive of the MPDC, Osorio Lucas said he was “ecstatic” about the outcome of the bilateral talks. “This will culminate in the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Cape Town in November this year, with the intention of fostering competitiveness and growth through this cooperation and, the realisation of MPDC’s vision of propelling the region forward,” he said.


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Port and city of Beira

The Machpanda railroad, which runs for 317 kilometres, is once again in operation after the Beira railway system was returned to the management of state company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) in December 2011, Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias reports.

The Beira railway system, which includes the Sena line linking the Port of Beira to the Moatize coal basin in Tete province, and the Machipanda line, which connects Beira and Zimbabwe, had been awarded as a concession to the Beira railroad company, Companhia Caminhos de Ferro da Beira (CCFB), a consortium made up of Ricon, a consortium of state Indian companies Rites and Ircon Internacional (51%), and Mozambican state rail and port company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique, with the remaining 49%.

According to the newspaper, the trains leave for Zimbabwe from the port of Beira with cargo of mainly fertilisers and wheat and return to the port loaded with granite and container cargo. The number of derailments on the line has dropped considerably from around 60 to just two or three a month, following work that has been carried out along the line.

Since December 2011, CFM has increased the number of people involved in repairing the line, and has been able to refurbish some railway stations, re-open crossings, replace rails and sleepers, replace ballast, re-instate drainage ditches, cut back grass as well as implementing new level crossings.

The bridge over the Pungué River, which is about 245 metres long, linking the districts of Dondo and Nhamatanda in Sofala province, also needs work such as painting, replacement of sleepers, and reinstating pedestrian crossings, but work to de-mine the surrounding area has been completed and repair work is due to begin soon.

Meanwhile, given the lack of rolling stock on the line, CFM has leased wagons from National Zimbabwe Railways in order to ensure that an average of three trains per day travel along the Machipanda line, and the time it takes to travel along its length has already been reduced from 24 to 12 hours. source: macauhub


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South African company Vessel Protection Systems (VPS) has won a large order for more than 90 anti pirate devices invented and perfected by the Cape Town-based company.

The anti piracy devices have been fitted onto the 65,573-gt Transocean drill ship, DDKG2 and three supportive vessels which are currently employed in a high risk area. The charterers appointed a security company from Kuala Lumpur to manage the anti piracy ship hardening on board DDKG2 and on the three supply vessels which service the drill ship.

Vessel Protection Systems was then approached and an order for the devices was subsequently placed. With time being extremely short, the canisters were air freighted from Cape Town via Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, where the security detail were given a quick lesson in mounting and deploying the units before the four ships sailed.

Many ships coil razor wire along the side of the ships, but pirates have been found to circumvent this by using thick gloves and throwing blankets or canvas across the wire as they board. The razor wire becomes a nightmare for the installer and the working of the ship both at sea and in port, where stevedores have to come on board for the removal and loading of cargo. Some ports don’t welcome ships fitted with razor wire, and although galvanized the wire will rust when exposed to the sea air after more than a month or two.

In port gangways have to be lowered and the permanent razor wire has to be unfastened, without causing injury to crew. At sea it is often impossible to launch life rafts or lifeboats with the razor wire in position.

The VPS Anti Boarding Device also uses razor wire but comes at these problems from another angle. The system is designed to utilise the best features of razor wire, while avoiding the inherent dangers of handling the material.

A coil of razor wire is encased in a fibre glass canister which is hung on the outside of a ship’s rail. The razor wire remains encased within the canister until it is deliberately deployed during an attack by pirates. This can be achieved either manually or remotely, using the ship’s air system.

Multiple canisters are employed and fitted roughly every 18 metres, starting at the break of the forecastle. The fibre glass canisters are easily carried and hung in position, as they weigh less than 30 kilos each. They can be positioned so as to completely protect areas such as the gangway with ease, and can simply be lifted off the rail when the ship is in port.

None of the crew need ever touch the razor wire, and the wire will never touch the vessel unless under attack, when the wire would be deployed. The razor wire is treated with a moisture and rust repellent, and as it is well protected inside the canister it should last a minimum of 4 years unless deployed.

The canisters can be installed by the ship’s crew in a very short time as the ship is entering the danger zone, and then lifted off and stored back in the bosun’s locker until needed again.

When deployed, the razor wire is released from the canisters and presents the attacker with multiple parallel and overlapping coils, all behaving in erratic ways as the ship’s speed through the water causes the coils to bounce about. This makes boarding the vessel extremely hazardous, and the system is virtually impossible to negate.


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Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

report by Thandiwe Jumo, journalist: College of Law & Management Studies, UKZN

The College of Law and Management Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) will launch the Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies on Wednesday, 17 October 2012.

Located on the threshold of one of the largest port-related maritime communities in any city in the southern hemisphere, the Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies has been established at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to offer a consolidated postgraduate teaching site and research portal for this professional and commercial maritime community.

Its focus will be on but also well beyond the boundaries of eThekweni and the Durban port community.

Principal areas of teaching excellence at a postgraduate level range from maritime law, maritime transport and port economics to customs and excise.

This is a strategic research initiative which makes UKZN the only University in South Africa to offer this amalgam of maritime offerings.


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The UK-owned, managed and flagged bulker CLYMENE (73,600-dwt, built 2006) preparing to sail from Cape Town. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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